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Archive for February 18th, 2013

We like to remember the 84th birthday of sitar maestro Abdul Halim Jaffer Khan (18th Febr 1929)…

Posted by ElJay Arem (IMC OnAir) on February 18, 2013

Abdul Halim Jaffer Khan is an Indian sitar player. Khan received the national awards Padma Shri (1970) and Padma Bhushan (2006) and was awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for 1987.


(photo credit: Autographs of Sanket Natak Academi Awardies –

Abdul Halim Jaffer Khan is the youngest of the ‘Sitar Trinity‘ of India along with Ravi Shankar and Vilayat Khan. He was born in 1929, in Jawra, Madhya Pradesh, as the son of Jaffer Khan, a versatile vocalist, sitarist and beenkar. He hails from the Beenkar Gharana of Indore. He has been a distinguished All India Radio Artiste since the early 1940s. A few years before the Beatles met Ravi Shankar, in 1958, Khan collaborated with jazz pianist and composer Dave Brubeck. Brubeck who was in Bombay through the state sponsored “jazz diplomacy” – the Jazz Ambassadors Program was impressed by the improvisation in Indian music and said that the experience accompanying Halim Jaffer Khan led him to play in a different way. He says of that meeting, “We understood each other.” Khan also performed with the noted English classical guitarist Julian Bream in 1963.

Abdul Halim Jaffer Khan is perhaps best known for his innovation, Jafferkhani Baaj. He describes it as, “a synthesis of precision in technique, systematic thought” with a vigorous playing style. Cultural anthropologist and reader at the University of Mumbai, Dr. Kamala Ganesh states: “Hismusic making is full of eclectic yet deeply informed choices. He is a thinking musician but puts across his complex views with a simplicity and feeling which demarcate the articulate performer from the articulate theoretician…. In him, one gets an unmistakable sense… a syncretic tradition”. The Indian santoor player Shivkumar Sharma remembers of Khan’s performance of the raga Chaayanat: “It was probably in 1955-56, I was relaxing in my terrace in Jammu. In the stillness of the night I heard the notes of Raga Chaayanat on the sitar emanate from my neighbor’s radio. I immediately noticed that the tone of the sitar was completely different and the style of playing radically unique. I rushed to switch on my radio…. I was totally engrossed and was very curious to know who this maestro was.”

Of ragas such as Kirwani, Abdul Halim Jaffer Khan has been credited with bringing Carnatic ragas into the sitar repertoire: Kanakangi, Latangi, Kirwani, Karaharapriya, Manavati, Ganamurti, etc. but rendering them through a Hindustani sensibility and in the Jafferkhani style. he was the first Hindustani musician to collaborate with Carnatic music in a performance with renowned Veena player Emani Sankara Sastry. His early experimentation with polytonality in Indian classical instrumentation (which is largely solo performance) was achieved in his sitar quintet.

Khan has had a valuable involvement with Indian cinema. He has composed and played for epic films like Mughal-e-AzamJhanak Jhanak Payal BaajeGoonj Uthi ShehnaiKohinoor and has collaborated with noted music directors such as Vasant Desai, C. Ramachandra, Madan Mohan and Naushad who has said, “he not only enriched film music, but his participation lent prestige to my songs.”

In 1976, Abdul Halim Jaffer Khan created the Halim Academy of Sitar in Mumbai, India. His legacy is being carried on by his son Zunain Khan, an accomplished sitarist himself.

Awards (selection)

  • Padmabhushan in 2006
  • Shikhar Samman (Govt. of Madhya Pradesh) in 1991
  • Gaurav Puraskar (Govt. of Maharashatra) in 1990
  • Sangeet Natak Akademi Award 1987
  • Padmashree in 1970

Discography (selection)

  • Live in Jaipur 1968. Label Navras
  • Ustad Abdul Halim Jaffer Khan: Guzra Zamana – Live in Concert 1968. Label BMG Cresendo
  • 75th Celebration Swara Sadhna. Label Navras
  • 70th Birthday Release. Label Navras
  • A Night at the Valley. Label HMV/Sa Re Ga Ma
  • Jafferkhani Baaj. Label HMV/RPG Music
  • Ustad Abdul Halim Jaffer Khan Concert Series. Label CBS/Swara Shree Enterprises
  • A Tribute to Ustad Abdul Halim Jaffer Khan Series on HMV/RPG Music
(Source: 02/2013 –

Raga Sindh Bhairavi…
(part of  programme ‘RAGA’ with introduction by Sir Yehudi Menuhin)

(watch at 05:56 the street images of the India in the 60th)


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